At a roundtable discussion held on Tuesday 16 January, Nick Hurd (Minister for Policing and the Fire Service) heard from experts and senior officers – including a chief superintendent who has written a personal memoir about policing and mental health – on the subject of police officer well-being.
The roundtable, which was chaired by Hurd, focused on how the Government can assist police chiefs in their statutory duty to manage the welfare of their officers. The event was attended by various policing leaders, among them chief constable Andy Rhodes, who’s the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead on well-being, as well as experts from across Government, Public Health England and various mental health charities.
Metropolitan Police Service chief superintendent John Sutherland, the author of ‘Blue: A Memoir’ (which details his own personal struggles with mental health during a 26-year career in policing), also addressed attendees at the event.
Hurd stated: “Policing can be a very demanding job. Officers have demonstrated extraordinary courage and fortitude in the face of major challenges over the past year, including terrorist attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire. I’m grateful to them for their tireless work and dedication to duty. It’s imperative that policing provides excellent support to its officers and staff, which is precisely why I’m keen to listen to those with the most experience such that we can do so to the very best of our abilities. The Government takes the issue of police welfare very seriously. This event provides an opportunity to review progress made to date and put plans in place for the future.”
The roundtable builds on existing work by the sector. In July last year, the Home Secretary Amber Rudd awarded £7.5 million from the Police Transformation Fund over three years to pilot and, if it’s successful, subsequently fund a dedicated national service to help provide enhanced welfare support. The new service will complement the support already delivered at force level to serving police officers and staff.
Support for the Emergency Services
Using funds from the LIBOR fines imposed on banks, the Government has also awarded £7 million to the charity Mind since 2014, helping to fund targeted support and programmes for the Emergency Services.
The College of Policing has also carried out important work in this area. Chief constable Rhodes and Dr Ian Hesketh of the College have led the design of The Blue Light Well-Being Framework, which is the first ever sector-specific self-assessment management tool. It’s available via Oscar Kilo, a website that brings together those responsible for well-being and shares learning and Best Practice.
Chief constable Rhodes observed: “Our police officers and staff work in a physically and emotionally demanding environment, putting their bodies and their minds on the line 24/7 to keep us safe. This roundtable sends out a clear message that we’re relentless in our commitment to providing the world-class welfare support police need to deliver a high-quality service for the public. The event brought together experts and national leads to review progress and agree priorities for the future, including significant investment from the Police Transformation Fund. This investment will enable us to accelerate our efforts and significantly step up activity over the coming years.”